Silencer or Amplifier? The European Union Presidency and the Nordic Countries
Scandinavian Political Studies 27 (3): 311, 2004
24 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2012
Date Written: 2004
How did the three Nordic European Union member states approach their periods as holders of the European Union (EU) Council Presidency? Two radically different predictions about the impact of the Presidency on member state behaviour can be found in the literature. Some maintain that the position functions as an amplifier, strengthening the already existing tendency to propagate national concerns. Others argue that the Presidency functions as a silencer, subordinating national material interests to the benefit of common European concerns. In this article we analyse the ways in which Finland, Sweden and Denmark actually performed the Presidency role. Which of the competing interpretations is most appropriate? Was the Presidency role performed differently by the three countries? Our main finding is that the Presidency generally functioned as an amplifier during the Nordic presidencies. There are, however, interesting differences between the three states, Denmark being the least constrained in using the Presidency to further national interests whereas Finland was most anxious not to violate norms of impartiality and neutrality, even in cases where such behaviour ran contrary to national interests.
Keywords: European Union, Nordic states, Presidency, chairmanship, Sweden, Denmark, Finland
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